Creating positive change for chickens!
In recent years, driven by consumer demand, investor considerations and market forces, there has been a number of higher welfare pledges for broiler chickens from global leaders across all food sectors.
To date, over 2 BILLION ANIMALS are set to benefit from our corporate partners' higher welfare policies, practices and commitments - 88% OF THESE ANIMALS ARE BROILER CHICKENS.
European Chicken Commitment
In September 2017, Compassion joined forces with a group of European NGO’s asking the food industry to commit to new welfare standards for broiler chickens.
The European Chicken Commitment is a pledge committing its signatories to introduce higher welfare standards for all the chickens in their supply by 2026, including:
- Better genetics for improved quality of life
- More space to live
- Natural light, perches and pecking substrates to stimulate behaviour
- Humane slaughter
- Compliance with a meaningful third party animal welfare certification and annual reporting
In Europe, over 250 companies have signed up for better chicken, including key brands like KFC, M&S, Unilever, Nestlé, Waitrose, Danone, Elior Group, Sodexo, and 99% of the French retail market. Compassion has worked closely with some of these companies - see list below
Compassion helps drive change by:
- Working with companies to develop their roadmap for implementation, in particular making the business case; mapping the supply; finding solutions to barriers; marketing and consumer communications
- Hosting industry fora where stakeholders across the supply share experiences on transition to the BCC, update on the latest information, and brainstorm next steps for progressing delivery
- Participating in industry Working Groups on key topics to help resolve barriers to progress, such as: visual identity and consumer marketing; alternative breed availability; business to business connections; effective electric stunning without live inversion
- Engaging with Assurance Schemes to encourage them to set standards and audit to the Better Chicken Commitment
Who has signed the European Chicken Commitment?
The world’s largest quick service restaurant chain, Subway, signed up to the 2026 European Chicken Commitment (ECC) for 100% of the chicken in its European managed supply chain.
Domino's Pizza has publicly committed to sourcing their chicken to higher welfare standards by signing up to the Better Chicken Commitment in France, Germany, The Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium and Luxembourg.
High street bakery chain Greggs signed up to the Better Chicken Commitment in August 2020 to further strengthen their animal welfare credentials.
In July 2020, Nando’s formally released their public commitment to raise chicken standards across their UK and Ireland supply chains.
Popular UK casual dining restaurant chain Fridays, signed up to the Better Chicken Commitment in April 2021.
Pizza Express joined the growing number of companies in the restaurant sector to sign up to the Better Chicken Commitment in July 2020.
Waitrose has signed up to the European Chicken Commitment, and already provide their chickens with more space, natural light and a rich environment.
M&S has signed up to the European Chicken Commitment across 100% of their fresh and ingredient chicken offer.
Unilever’s commitment covers all its bouillons and soups – a truly phenomenal commitment given that the chicken is for ingredients in products where its power in the supply chain is limited.
By 2026, all Nestlé food products that use chicken as an ingredient in Europe will move to the higher welfare standards as set out in the European Chicken Commitment.
Casual Dining Group (CDG), the leading UK restaurant group, publicly committed to introduce higher welfare standards for chickens across their entire business portfolio including: Café Rouge, Bella Italia, Las Iguanas, La Tasca, Huxleys, Oriel Grande Brasserie and Belgo. CDG was renamed The Big Table in 2020.
Global meal kit provider HelloFresh joined the industry move for higher welfare chicken in May 2020.
High street Japanese food chain, YO! Sushi signed up to the Better Chicken Commitment in January 2020.
Norwegian chicken producer Norsk Kylling produces chicken for REMA 1000 and signed up to the Better Chicken Commitment as part of their partnership. Read the case study.
One of the largest global contract caterers, Compass Group, has made the pledge to transform the welfare of chickens by signing up to the 2026 European Chicken Commitment. They have also signed a similar pledge in the US to introduce higher welfare standards for broilers by 2024.
Sodexo has committed to source 100% of their chicken meat from systems compliant with the criteria set out in the European Chicken Commitment, across all of their European operations, by 2026.
Elior Group has committed to using only higher welfare chicken GLOBALLY by 2026. Read more.
Danone, world leader in infant nutrition, has committed to improve broiler welfare across their entire European supply chain. Read more.
In August 2020, Aldi France pledged to meet the higher welfare requirements of the European Chicken Commitment for all their own brand fresh, frozen and processed products (containing more than 50% chicken) by 2026.
In September 2020, Lidl France committed to ensuring all its own label products containing more than 50% chicken will meet the Better Chicken criteria by 2026 at the latest.
French retailer Schiever announced its renewed commitment to improve the welfare of broilers in its supply in October 2020.
Leading French supermarket chain E.Leclerc, which holds 21.4% of the retail market in France, signed up to the Better Chicken Commitment in September 2020.
Groupe Holder, who owns the popular PAUL and Ladurée brands, announced its Better Chicken Commitment (BCC) in September 2020.
Monoprix was the first French retailer to sign up to the European Chicken Commitment and aims to meet the criteria for their own-brand chicken ahead of schedule, by 2024.
By 2026, Aramark will require all of its European suppliers to meet the new requirements for 100% of their fresh, frozen, and processed chicken, extending its US commitment for the humane treatment of broilers chickens.
Intermarché is the 3rd largest retailer in France with 15% market share. They have pledged to meet the higher welfare requirements for their Intermarché and Netto stores across all their fresh, frozen and processed chicken (containing over 50% of chicken meat) by 2026.
Auchan is the 6th largest retailer in France with 10% market share and has committed to introduce the new higher welfare requirements for their fresh, frozen and processed chicken (containing over 50% of chicken meat) by 2026.
Système U, the 5th largest retailer in France, has pledged to meet the higher welfare requirements of the European Chicken Commitment for all their own brand fresh, frozen and processed products (containing more than 50% chicken) by 2026.
French restaurant chain Flunch, which serves 54 million meals a year, has announced that all its restaurants in France will use chicken that meets the requirements of the European Chicken Commitment by 2026.
API Restauration, the fourth largest catering company in France has signed up to meet the ECC criteria by 2026.
Bertrand Restauration is part of the Betrand Group - one of the leading catering groups in France - and joined the Better Chicken Commitment in February 2020.
Sodebo, the No.1 manufacturer of ready meals and sandwiches in France, (with around 13% market share for their own brands) signed up to the European Chicken Commitment in November 2019.
French retailer Carrefour has committed to ensuring all its own label products containing more than 50% chicken will meet the Better Chicken criteria by 2026 at the latest. Carrefour Polska also signed up to the BCC in May 2020.
Carrefour Polska became the first retail chain in Poland to sign up to the European Chicken Commitment in May 2021. All their own-brand products (fresh, frozen and whole chicken and branded products containing more than 50% chicken) will meet the higher welfare criteria of the ECC by 2026.
What's wrong with modern broiler production?
The most farmed animal on the planet – the broiler chicken - exists in a ‘physiological cage’, constricted by its high growth rate and oversized body, and raised in overcrowded barns.
Compassion’s ongoing work with the food industry involves investigating supply chain solutions to help drive the market towards better chicken.
Find out more about the problems and solutions with modern broiler production below.
Too many birds, not enough room
Meat chickens are the most farmed land animal in the world. Seven billion are reared in Europe every year, and 90% of these are crammed into barren sheds.
Chickens can feel emotions just like us, such as pain and fear, so regularly suffer in these harsh conditions.
The problem - overcrowded sheds
Intensively farmed chickens are packed into overcrowded sheds - often with little or no natural light and only litter on the floor. They dislike being crammed together and will compress their feathers to avoid touching one another.
A lack of stimulating materials mean they spend most of their time inactive and bored.
The solution - room to breathe
A chicken’s life is transformed when they are given more space, natural light and can do what comes naturally: pecking, scratching, wing flapping and perching.
In the best systems, they have separate places to rest, feed, drink and play – and can go outside for fresh air and sunlight.
Too big. Too fast
Most chickens are bred to grow so quickly they can struggle to walk and can develop serious heart conditions.
Chickens are healthier, happier and more active when they are bred to grow more slowly and have the space and stimulation they need to behave like chickens.
The problem - trapped in oversized bodies
Intensively farmed chickens can struggle to walk and become lame. Many develop heart conditions making them even more inactive and prone to metabolic problems.
High body weight causes their muscles to degenerate – which also reduces the quality of the meat.
The solution - a natural, healthy size
Slower growing breeds means:
- Chickens have more natural proportions and are able to walk more easily
- Chickens have stronger hearts and better resistance to disease
- Chickens have stronger, healthier muscles which provides good quality meat
Bad for them. Bad for us.
The majority of meat chickens are bred to grow so fast they're ready for market as early as 33 days old. This is exhausting for them and leads to serious health problems.
Selective breeding to create fast growing animals, and their poor living conditions, means antibiotics are often routinely used to combat disease.
The problem - unhealthy for chickens and consumers
Poor immune systems and living conditions allow bacteria to flourish, which can lead to a greater risk of food poisoning
Antibiotics are routinely given to chickens to survive poor welfare systems, when they should only be given to sick animals.
The quality and nutritional content of intensively farm chicken meat is also poorer.
The solution - healthier chicken, better for customers
Making sure chickens don’t grow too fast and have better living conditions dramatically reduces the need for antibiotics. As a result fewer chickens become infected with harmful bacteria.
Using higher welfare chicken means you can offer better quality meat and healthier, more nutritious food to your customers.
Higher welfare chicken is:
- Better for chickens - they are more active and healthy in higher welfare systems
- Better for health - less disease and reduced risk of food poisoning
- Better for your customers - higher quality, more nutritious food
Join the broiler revolution!
Working together we can investigate supply chain solutions and stimulate the market for higher welfare chicken.
Find out more about our Good Chicken Award.
Read the European Chicken Commitment overview.
Read this interesting case study on how Norwegian retailer REMA 1000 Norge AS worked with its poultry producer Norsk Kylling to successfully implement the higher welfare requirements of the European Chicken Commitment.
Also, watch the latest video of the Windstreek System that has been developed in The Netherlands which is a new, modern design of broiler shed, incorporating multiple features for improved welfare and sustainability. (You can also read a more detailed case study on this system.)